This page is in process; some revisions may be made later. I have also posted the legend of Kanasta [ from which Connestee takes its name], above.
I see that Tellico Village, Tennessee, also has street names of Cherokee origin.
Connestee Falls is a large housing development near Brevard, North Carolina. It occupies some 3900 acres, with about 1300 homes. I understand that about half of those homes belong to year-round residents. There are some 50 miles of paved streets in the community. Some historical information on the area is found at this link; however, for correct translations of the street names, you should look below on this site. Those on the otherwise excellent historical site are not always very good. You might also want to read the comments following my translations here.
What makes Connestee Falls of some interest to us? Almost all of its streets bear Cherokee names.
I have never visited the community, but I have exchanged information with some local people about it, and I have spent a good deal of time studying the map of its streets.
The street names are taken from the names of historical Cherokee towns or places, plants, animals, birds, and famous Cherokee leaders.
Here, I am going to list the names of all the streets. For each one, I will give a phonetic spelling that could be used by Connestee residents to help with pronunciation. The pronunciation is intended to preserve at least the flavor of the Cherokee sounds, but it will be one that can be spoken by modern English speakers; it is not intended to be a perfect Cherokee pronunciation. As often as possible, I try to use some rough approximation of the Giduwa [Eastern Cherokee] Dialect as a starting point, because that is the major surviving dialect in North Carolina. However, Giduwa is a more conservative form than the somewhat homogenized Western Dialect of Oklahoma and its sounds are sometimes much more difficult for English speakers [and for me to represent here], so, in several cases, the pronunciation given here is closer to the Western speech.
I hope this will be a helpful guide for Connestee Falls residents and visitors.
In many words, the “v” is best pronounced as “un.” I have chosen to suggest “ch” as a pronunciation of those syllables beginning with “ts”; some speakers actually pronounce the “ts” sound, but most pronounce as “j” or “ch” or even “z.” Syllables beginning with “tl” or “dl” are most correctly pronounced with a sound best represented by “hl,” but this combination is not always easy for English speakers, so I have usually suggested some similar sound. [The “correct” pronunciation of “tl” is very similar to the correct pronunciation of the Ll in Welsh Llanfair.]
After the pronunciation, there will be a spelling of the name that would be readable to a Cherokee speaker and which could readily be written using the Cherokee Syllabary. Please note that the letter “v” is used to represent the sound that is close to the UH in <HUH?>.
The next entry will be an authentic translation or explanation of the name. There are still a few of the names that I simply cannot decipher into some original meaning as yet, but I will continue the research and update those names whenever possible.
Anyone who wishes to print out this list is welcome to do so. I would appreciate it if you would mention the source on the printout.
This is the format:
Street name [best pronunciation] (Cherokee word, by syllables): meaning
Adawehi [ah-DAH-way-hee] (a-da-we-hi): Medicine man, magician, conjurer
Adayahi [ah-DAH-ya-hee] (a-da-ya-hi): Oak
Adelv [ah-DAY-la] (a-de-lv): Silver, money
Adohi [ah-DOE-hee] (a-do-hi): Woody place, forest
Agaliha [ah-GAH-li-ha] (a-ga-li-ha): It is shining, so: sunshine or moonshine
Ama [AH-ma] (a-ma): Water or salt. Probably water was intended.
Amacola [ah-ma-KOH-la] (a-ma u-qua-le-lv-yi): An attempt at Amicalola, place where water makes rolling thunder noise. The name of the famous water falls and state park in Georgia. Some old maps spelled it Amacola.
Amayi [ah-MAH-yee] (a-ma-yi): In the water
Annakesta [anna-KES-ta]: I am still trying to decipher this one.
Anv [AH-na] (a-nv, modern form a-ni): Strawberry. Please don’t pronounce it “Ann-vee!.
Atisvgi [ah-ti-SUN-gi] Still researching this one
Atsadi [a-CHAH-di] (a-tsa-di): Fish
Awi [ah-WEE or ah-WHEE] (a-wi): Deer
Ayugidv [ah-YOO-gi-DUN] (modern yu-gi-da): Hazel or hazelnut
Catatoga [CAH-ta-TOE-ga] (from ga-du-gi-tse-yi): New town or new settlement. In Macon County, the same word became Cartoogechaye.
Chagee [CHAH-gi] (tsa-gi): Perhaps from tsa-gi, “up the road” or “upstream”; one Cherokee village bore this name.
Cheestoonaya [CHEES-too-NAH-ya] (tsi-stu-na-yi): Crawfish place
Cheowa [chee-OH-wah] (tsi-yo-hi): Otter place
Cherokee [CHER-o-kee] (tsa-la-gi): the Cherokee people
Cheulah [CHEW-la] (tsu-la): Red Fox, the name of a Cherokee chief in TN, 1762.
Connestee [KAH-na-stee] (ka-na-stv-yi): Meaning unknown; there is a legend of a lost Cherokee settlement from which the name comes. It is quite possible that it is only a Cherokee approximation of the name of the tribe or town which was there long before the Cherokee arrived.
Dalonigei [da-LAHN-i-GAY-ee] (da-lo-ni-ge-i): Yellow, gold; the same word that became the name of Dahlonega, GA
Dawatsila [DAH-wa-CHEE-la] (da-w-tsi-la): Elm
Dewa [DAY-wa or TAY-wa] (te-wa): Flying squirrel
Dotsi [DAH-chee] (do-tsi): A kind of water monster believed to live in the Tennessee River
Dotsuwa [doe-CHEW-wha or toe-CHEW-wha or toe-JEW-wha] (do-tsu-wa): Red Bird, Cardinal
Doyi [DOE-yee] (do-yi): Beaver
Dudi [DOO-dee; I prefer TOO-tee] (du-di): Snowbird
Duya [DOO-ya; I prefer TOO-ya] (tu-ya): Bean
Dvdegi [DUN-day-gi] (tlv-de-qua): Eel
Dvdisdi [dun-DEES-ti] (attempt at tlv-ti-sdi): Pheasant
Dvga [DUN-ga; I prefer TUN-ga] (tv-ga): Housefly
Echota [eh-CHOE-ta] (i-tsa-ti): Meaning unknown; New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee people at the time of removal. Sautee is one rendition of the same word.
Elaqua [eh-LAH-qua] [e-la-qua]: Still under research
Elseetos [el-SEE-toess]: One source claims that this was the Cherokee name of Mt. Pisgah, Haywood County, NC, but I cannot document that.
Enolah [ee-NOE-la] (i-no-li): Black Fox, a Cherokee chief in the early 19th Century; also, an old name for what is now Brasstown Bald in GA
Gadu [GAH-doo] (ga-du): Bread
Gagama [ga-GAH-ma or ka-KAH-ma] (ga-ga-ma): Cucumber
Galuyasdi [ga-LOO-ya-stee] (ga-lu-ya-sdi): Ax or tomahawk
Galvloi [gah-la-LOW-ee] (ga-lv-lo-i): Sky
Ganohenv [GAH-no-HAY-na or KAH-no-HAY-na](ga-no-he-nv): Hominy, which is not the same thing as grits!
Gasga [GAHSS-ga or GOSH-ga] (a-ga-sga): It is raining
Gawanv [ga-WOE-na or ka-WOE-na or ga-WAH-na] (ka-wo-ni): Duck
Gigagei [gi-ga-GAY-ee] (gi-ga-ge-i): Red
Gili [ghee-LEE or GHEE-hli or GI-li] (gi-tli): Dog
Gogv [KO-ga or GO-ga] (go-gv): Crow
Golanv [KO-la-na or GO-la-na] (go-la-nv): Raven; Cherokee name of Sam Houston
Guledisgonihi [GOO-lay dis-KAH-ni-hee] (gu-le-di-sgo-ni-hi): Mourning dove [literally, “he cries for acorns”]
Guque [kuh-KWAY or guh-KWAY] (gu-que): Bobwhite quail
Gusti [GOOS-tee or GUS-tee] (gu-sti): Meaning unknown, from a Cherokee settlement on the Tennessee River in TN
Gusv [goo-SUH) (gu-sv): Beech tree [probably]
Guwa [KOO-wah or GOO-wah] (gu-wa): Mulberry tree
Gvhe [GUN-hay or GUH-hay] (gv-he): Bobcat
Gvli [GUN-tlee or GUH-lee or GUH-hlee] (gv-li): Raccoon
Hokassa [ho-KASS-a] (perhaps intended for na-qui-si): Naquisi is the word for star.
Inadv [EE-na-DUH or ee-NAH-da; EE-na-DEE in some dialects] (i-na-da): Snake
Inoli [ee-NO-lee] (i-no-li): Black Fox; see Enola
Isuhdavga [ee-SUN-da-UN-ga] (i-sv-da-v-ga): Still under research
Iya [EE-yah] (i-ya): Pumpkin
Junaluska [JOO-na-LUS-ka] (tsu-nu-la-hv-sgi): “He keeps on trying unsuccessfully”; the name of a great Cherokee chief in the early 19th Century
Kalvi [ka-LUN-ee or ka-LUH-ee] (from di-ka-lv-gv-i): East
Kanasdatsi [KAH-na-STAH-chee] (ka-na-sda-tsi): Sassafras
Kanasgowa [KAH-na-SKOE-wa or KAH-nahs-GO-wa] (ka-na-sgo-wa): Heron
Kanunu [ka-NOO-na] (ka-nu-na): Bullfrog
Kanvsita [kah-na-SEE-ta] (ka-nv-si-ta): Dogwood
Kassahola [KAHSS-a-HO-la or KASS-a-HO-la] (ka-sa-ho-la): Still under research
Kawani [ka-WAH-ni or ka-WOE-ni] (ka-wa-ni): Perhaps same as Gawanv, or possibly meant to be “April”
Kituhwa [kee-TOO-whah] (gi-tu-wa): Very important early Cherokee settlement; said to be the Mother Town of the tribe
Klonteska [klon-TESS-ka] (tla-ni-te-sga): Research continues. I don’t believe it means “pleasant” as sometimes stated.
Konnaneeta [KAHN-a-NEE-ta] (ka-na-ni-ta): Possibly “young turkey hatchlings,” but I am still researching this one.
Moytoy [MOY-TOY] (perhaps ma-ta-yi): Cherokee chief in first half of the 18th Century. The name is probably an English attempt at the shortened Cherokee form of “Ama-adawehi,” which could be translated as “water wizard” or, by implication, even “rain maker.”
Nodatsi [no-da-CHEE or no-DOTCH-ee] (no-da-tsi or no-da-tli): Spicewood [Lindera benzoin]
Nokassa [no-KAHSS-a or no-CASS-a] (probably na-qui-si): Star. See Hokassa.
Notlvsi [no-TLUN-see or nah-TLUH-see] (one writer’s spelling of na-qui-si or na-tli-si): Star
Notsi [NAH-chee or NO-jee] (na-tsi or no-tsi): Pine
Nunv [NOO-na or NOO-nuh, not NUN-vee!] (nu-nv): Potato
Nvya [NUH-ya or NUN-ya] (ny-ya): Rock [not river]
Oakanoah [OH-ka-NO-a](distorted from u-ga-na-wa): South [also has come to mean “warm” and “Democrat”; pronounced oo-GAH-na-wa in modern Cherokee]. One of the seven Cherokees who went to England in 1730 was Oukanekah; the name of this street may be a distortion of his name.
Ogana[OH-ga-na or oh-GAH-na] (o-ga-na or a-ga-na): Groundhog
Ohwanteska [OH-hwahn-TESS-ka] (o-wa-ni-te-sga): I am still working on this one.
Ortanola [ORR-ta-NO-la] (??): This name is badly distorted. Still in research
Ossarooga [OSS-a-ROO-ga] (??): This one is in research, too.
Ottaray [OTT-a-RAY] (o-ta-ri): Mountain, in an extinct dialect
Qualla [KWAH-la] (qua-la): Cherokee attempt at the word “Polly”; now the name of the Qualla Boundary part of the Eastern Cherokee Reservation
Quanv [KWAH-na] (qua-nv): Peach
Sakkoleeta [SAK-a-LEE-ta] (Perhaps tsa-quo-la-da-gi): Bluebird; Sakonige [sa-KOH-nee-gay] does mean “blue.”
Sali [SAH-lee] (sa-li): Persimmon
Saligugi [SAH-li-GOO-gi] (sa-li-gu-gi): Mud turtle, also called snapping turtle
Salola [sah-LOW-lee or sha-LOW-lee] (sa-lo-li): Gray squirrel
Sedi [SED-i or SAY-dee] (se-di): Walnut
Selu [SAY-loo or SHAY-loo] (se-lu): Corn; corn goddess
Sequoyah [see-KWOI-ya] (si-quo-yi): Probably the most famous historical Cherokee; he invented the Cherokee Syllabary
Setsi [SETCH-ee] (se-tsi): Mound and settlement in Cherokee County, NC; meaning unknown
Sgili [SKILL-ee] (sgi-li): Witch
Soco [SOH-koh] (so-quo-hi): “Number One Place”
Soquili [so-KWEE-lee or show-GWEE-lee] (so-qui-li): Horse
Sunnalee [sun-a-LAY-ee] (su-na-le-i): Tomorrow or morning or evening
Svgata [sun-GAH-ta or SHUNK-ta] (sv-ga-ta): Apple
Taladu [ta-LAH-doo or TAH-la-DOO] (ta-la-du): Cricket [ta-LAH-du] or twelve [TAH-la-DOO)
Tawsee [TAW-see] (to-si): Name of a Cherokee settlement in Habersham County, GA. Meaning unknown. I suspect that the village may have been taken from the Catawba people; if that is the case, in the Catawba language, the name may have referred to a dog, or more likely, to a wolf.
Taya [TAH-ya] (gi-ta-ya): Cherry
Tellico [TELL-i-KOH] (ta-li-qua): Important Cherokee town in TN; Tahlequah, OK, is the same word.
Ticoa [tee-KOH-a] (ti-go-a): Could be a distortion of Toccoa?
Tili [TEE-lee or just TIL-lee as in Tilly] (ti-li): Chestnut or chinquapin
Tinequa [ti-NEH-kwa] (ti-ne-qua; probably ta-ni-qua): Literally, “big louse”; probably Taniqua [ta-NEE-kwa “mole”] was intended.
Tlugvi [tlu-KUH-ee or just TLOO-kuh] (tlu-gv-i): Tree
Tludatsi [tloo-DAH-chee or tlun-DAH-chee] (tlv-da-tsi): Panther, mountain lion
Tsalagi [CHAH-la-KEE or JAH-la-GHEE] (tsa-la-gi): Cherokee
Tsataga [cha-TAW-ga or chee-TAW-ga] (tsi-ta-ga): Chicken
Tsayoga [cha-YO-ga] (tla-yi-ga or tsa-yo-ga): Blue jay
Tsisqua [CHEE-skwah] (tsi-squa): Bird
Tsiya [CHEE-ya] (tsi-ya or tsi-yo or tsi-yu): Otter was probably intended; also can mean canoe or boat
Tsisdu [CHEE-stoo] (tsi-sdu): Rabbit
Tsisdvna [chee-STUN-na] (tsi-sdv-na): Crawfish
Tsitsi [chee-chee] (tsi-tsi): Wren
Tsolv [CHOE-la] (tso-la) : Tobacco
Tsuganawvi [chew-GAH-na-WUN-ee] (tsu-ga-na-wv-i): South [toward the south]
Tsula [CHEW-la] (tsu-la): Red fox
Tsuyvtlvi [chew-yun-TLUN-ee] (tsu-yv-tlv-i): North [toward the north]
Tsvwagi [chuh-WAH-ghee] (tsv-wa-gi): Maple
Udoque [oo-doe-KWAY] (u-do-que, nv-do-que-ya intended): Sourwood [Oxydendron arboreum]
Udvawadulisi [OO-ta-na WAH-doo-LEE-see] (wa-du-li-si u-ta-na intended): Bumblebee [literally “big bee”]
Ugedaliyvi [oo-gay-DAH-lee-YUN-ee] (u-ge-da-li-yv-i): Valley or cove
Ugiladi [oo-gi-LAH-di] (u-gi-da-tli intended): Feather
Ugugu [OO-goo-GOO or oo-GOOG] (u-gu-gu): Hoot owl [Barred owl, Strix varia]
Uloque [oo-LOW-kway] (u-lo-que): Mushroom
Ulvda [oo-LUN-da] (u-lv-da): Poison ivy
Unoga [oo-NO-ga] (u-no-ga): Bass [fish]
Unole [oo-NO-lay] (u-no-le): Storm [or strong wind or tornado]
Unvquolad [oo-NUN-kwo-LAHD] (u-nv-quo-la-tv-i intended): Rainbow
Unutsi [OO-nuh-chee or OON-chee] (u-nv-tsi): Snow
Unvdatlvi [OO-na-dah-TLUN-ee] (u-nv-da-tlv-i; do-da-tlv-i): Mountains [perhaps intended for “they are mountains”?]
Usdasdi [oo-STAH-stee] (u-sda-sdi): Holly
Usgewi [oo-SKAY-wee] (u-sge-wi): Cabbage
Utsonati [oo-cho-NAH-tee] (u-tso-na-ti): Rattlesnake
Utsuwodi [oo-chew-WOE-di] (u-tso-wo-di; I prefer a-la-su-lo): Moccasin
Uwaga [oo-WAH-ga] (u-wa-ga): Passion fruit [Passiflora incarnata, also called “old field apricot”]
Uwohali [uh-WOE-ha-lee] (a-wo-ha-li): Eagle
Uyasga [oo-YAH-ska; better OO-ska] (u-ya-sga or u-sga): Skull
Vdali [un-DAL-lee] (v-da-li): Lake
Wadigei [WAH-di-GAY-ee] (u-wo-di-ge-i): Brown
Waga [WAH-ka or WAH-ga] (wa-ga): Cow [Cheroke pronunciation of Spanish vaca]
Wahuhu [wah-hoo-HOO] (wa-hu-hu): Screech owl [Otus asio]
Walelu [wah-LAY-la] (wa-le-la): Hummingbird
Walosi [wah-LOW-see or wa-LOWSH] (wa-lo-si): Green frog
Wanei [wa-NAY-ee] (wa-ne-i): Walnut
Warwaseeta [WAR-wah-SEE-ta] (wa-wa-si-ta): Said to be the old Cherokee name for Pisgah Ridge in Haywood County, but I cannot document that.
Waya [WAH-ya] (wa-ya): Wolf
Wesa [WAY-sah or way-SHAH] (we-sa): Cat [domestic cat]
Wodigeasgohi [WOE-di-gay ah-SKOE-hee] (wo-di-ge a-sgo-li intended): Copperhead
Yanequa [yah-NEH-kwa] (yo-ne-qua, from yo-na e-qua): Big Bear, Cherokee chief in the late 18th Century
Yona [YO-na] (yo-na): Bear; more commonly spelled Yonah
Yuda [YOO-da] (perhaps gi-yu-ga or yu-ga intended?): Chipmunk [?]
Yunega [yoo-NEH-ga] (Intended for u-ne-ga): White [Yonega is “white man” or “English”]
Note: In the Eastern Cherokee [Giduwa] dialect, most of the syllables beginning with <ts> are pronounced as if they begin with <z>. In many words ending in -i, -hi, or -a, the last syllable is dropped in pronunciation.
Many thanks to Mike Heiser, who kindly provided me with a working list of the street names. Any errors of commission or omission are my fault and not his.
Cherokee Place Names, Part 10
Tusquitee Creek empties into the Hiwassee River just north of Hayesville, North Carolina. Near the junction was the old Cherokee village of Da’squitv‘yi, “place of rafters,” the corrupted pronunciation of which became Tusquitee. The reference was to those of houses, not to those who who choose to float on waters. In the immediate area, we find townships, mountains, ridges, and ranger stations bearing the Tusquitee name. Here we have a good example of what happens when chambers of commerce do not carefully examine details when they prepare “translations” of local Cherokee place names. In several places, I find it written that “Tusquitee means ‘where the water dogs laughed.'” That is incorrect information. Here is a quotation from Mooney which will serve as an explanation of how they came to believe what they wrote. Note that the story has nothing directly to do with Dasquitvyi. Bracketed parts are my editorial comments.
“The Cherokee name [of this area] is Tsuwa-uniyetsv’yi [and not Dasquitvyi], ‘Where the water-dogs laughed,’ the water-dog of the southern Alleghenies, sometimes also called mud-puppy or hellbender, being a large amphibious lizard or salamander of the genus Menopoma, frequenting muddy waters. According to the story, a hunter once crossing over the mountain in a very dry season, heard voices, and creeping silently toward the place from which the sound proceeded, peeped over a rock and saw two water-dogs walking together on their hind legs along the trail and talking as they went. Their pond had dried up and they were on their way over to Nantahala River. As he listened one said to the other, ‘Where’s the water? I’m so thirsty that my apron [gills] hangs down,’ and then both water-dogs laughed.”
Nickajack Creek, in Marion County, Tennessee, and Nickajack Lake take their name from the important Cherokee town once located where Nickajack Creek emptied into the Tennessee River. Now, the site is under the lake. Niquatse’gi was one of the Cherokee Chickamauga towns; in 1794, it was the site of a horrible and senseless massacre of Cherokee men, women, and children. There is another Nickajack Creek on the Cullasaja River, in Ellijay Township, North Carolina. Before the days of political correctness and ethnic sensitivity, a less pleasing pronunciation of this latter creek was the norm. And, there is still another creek of this name in Cobb County, Georgia; it is said to provide some whitewater rafting after a good rain. I am not sure why these last two creeks are so named. Some have written that Nickajack meant “old Creek place.” Linguistically, there is no justification for that derivation.
The Nantahala River flows northward from its headwaters in Macon County, North Carolina, to the Little Tennessee River through beautiful scenery and a deep gorge favored by whitewater rafters. Its name comes from the Cherokee words Nvda’ and aye’li [“sun” and “middle”], from the implication that one sees the sun only at midday from the gorge. It is not too much of a stretch to say that Nantahala could be translated as “Land of the Midday Sun.” In Cherokee, Nvda can mean either sun or moon, so one must specify “nvda iga ehi” [Nvda living in the day] or “nvda sunoye ehi” [Nvda living in the night]. Contrary to most world mythologies, in Cherokee tradition the sun is feminine and the moon is masculine. By the way, the moon is grammatically masculine in German. [This might be a good place to remember how the Cherokee vowel “v” is pronounced. We can use the word “nvda” as the example: First, say “Nun” as in English, then pronounce it again, exactly the same way but leaving off the second “n” sound. You end up with a nasal (through the nose) sound like “nuh”; then, put it all together to get “nv-da.”]
The Nantahala Mountains were once called the Jore Mountains. The local pronunciation of the word Nantahala is “Nanta-HAYla.”
The Swannanoa River joins the French Broad at Asheville, North Carolina. The Cheraw Indians lived east of the Cherokee until they were obliged to join the Catawba people early in the 18th Century. Their name for themselves must have been something like “Suwala,” because de Soto called them Xuala and, to the Cherokee, they were Ani-Suwali [“they are Suwali”]. The Cherokee name for the route from the mountains to the Cheraw country was Suwa’li-nunnohi [“Suwali path”]. In English pronunciation, that became Swannanoa and was applied to the river and the mountains just east of Asheville. Pronounce it <SWAN-uh-NO-uh>.
Under Tellico Lake now, but once upon a time where Citico Creek joined the Little Tennessee River was the town of Si’tigu’ [or Sitiku]. Its name was probably not a Cherokee word, so it may have been Creek or Yuchi before it was occupied by the Cherokee. The meaning in whatever the original language was is now lost to us, but there is no basis at all for saying it means “place of clean fishing water,” as is sometimes reported. The Spanish expedition under Pardo in 1567 reported a town which they spelled “Satapo” at about the location of what came to be known later as Citico. It is likely that the 16th Century inhabitants may have been Muskogean or Yuchi of some unknown tribe, which would indicate that the Cherokee, lacking a <p> sound, rendered as Sitiku or Setiku. There seems to have been another settlement far up Citico Creek, but I want to research it further before including it here.
Tallassee is not far to the east of Citico, on the north side of the Little Tennessee. Further upstream, Tallassee Creek enters the river from the south. Here lay the Cherokee settlement of Ta’lasi'; perhaps the old site is now at least partially submerged in Chilhowee Lake. Talasi is not a Cherokee word; it is more likely Creek, perhaps from a dialect in which it simply meant “town.”
Chilhowee‘s name came from the town that Bartram spelled “Chelowe”. I believe the old settlement area is now under the lake, too. The Cherokee pronunciation was probably “Tsutlvwe’i,” and the meaning is lost. An oft-repeated speculation is that it came from the word for fox or kingfisher, but I am skeptical.
Tomotla is a few miles northeast of Murphy, North Carolina, on the Valley River. Here was the old village of Tamatli [sometimes written Tamali or Tamahle]. This town may have been continuously occupied for several centuries; it was taken from the Creeks by the Cherokee, who kept their approximation of the Creek name. There was another Cherokee town of the same name near the junction of the Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers; its site is now under the waters of Lake Tellico, but the name survives as Tomotli Shoals and Tomotla Ford. Far down the Chattahoochee, in Creek lands never occupied by the Cherokee, was still another town called Tamatli. The Nahuatl [Aztec] word for tomato, incidentally, was tomatl, but it is hard to believe this was more than a coincidence.
Suches, Georgia, may have taken its name from a settlement called Tase’tsi [Tasache, on old maps], which actually lay a few miles to the east of the present town. Tasetsi was sometimes shortened to Setsi. I recall that the old people I knew in my childhood pronounced Suches as “Sechis.” [It is pronounced “SUCH-iss” locally these days.] The shortened form, Setsi, was also applied to the mound and a long lost village near Andrews, North Carolina. Like many other very ancient names, the meaning of this one is also forgotten to us.
Junaluska Creek, near Andrews, and Lake Junaluska, near Waynesville, North Carolina, are named for the famous Cherokee Tsunu’lahv’sgi. He organized a group of warriors in 1813 and vowed to wipe the Creeks off the face of the earth. Unfortunately (for him, but not for the Creeks!), he was not able to accomplish his goal. He reported that he had tried and failed. Thereafter, he was called Tsunulahvsgi, which translates as ” he tried, but he always failed.” English speakers rendered his name as “Junaluska,” and he is memorialized by other place names in western North Carolina. For further reading about Junaluska, you might begin with this link. Junaluska was born near Dillard, Georgia, then called Eastertoy [Estatoah].
Also near Waynesville is the Saunook Community. I believe its present name is taken from the prominent Cherokee family. Historically, the family name came from Ani-Sawanugi, the Cherokee word for the Shawnee tribe. Many Shawnee came eventually to live among the Cherokee, despite long previous hostilities between the two tribes. One Cherokee signer of the “Turkeytown Treaty” of 1817 had his name rendered as “Souanooka.” The Shawnee were known to the Creeks as Savanuka, and, according to Mooney, some of the coastal tribes called them the Savanna. So it was that the Shawnee gave their name to the Savannah River and to the city of Savannah. In the 20th Century, Savannah was often used as a girl’s name, including in the shortened form Vanna.
Soco Gap, derived from soquo’hi [“One place”; the word for “one” is pronounced “sho-gwa” in the Eastern Cherokee dialect], and several other places incorporating Soco in their names. It is not clear why a site would be so named. Soco Creek joins the OconalufteeRiver at Cherokee, North Carolina. In Georgia, near Gainesville, is a street and community called Ahaluna. I am not sure how it came to have that name, but, as a matter of interest, that was a Cherokee name applied to Soco Gap. Translated into modern terms, Ahaluna would mean “Deer Stand.” Literally, its meaning is “where they lay [past tense] in wait” [for deer, or for enemies].
Ela, in Swain County, North Carolina, is the Cherokee word for earth or land.
The name of Euharlee Creek, which runs through Rockmart, Georgia–and the Euharlee community a few miles to the northeast—comes from the Cherokee attempt [“yuha’li”] at pronouncing the Creek town name Eufaula, so it really is not Cherokee at all. We should remember that Cherokee has no “f” sound.
Cullowhee, North Carolina [pronounced “CULLA-whee”]: From “Gulohiyi,” a place where gulohi grows. Some sources say that gulohi is the watercress, but we really don’t know that. I have an idea that the gulohi was quite another plant, but I can’t prove it. In the extinct Lower Dialect, the word became “gurohiyi,” which morphed into Currahee, the famous mountain at Toccoa, Georgia. During World War II, 101st Airborne troops trained on this mountain, and Steven Spielberg’s TV miniseries Band of Brothers featured it prominently. You thought paratroopers all yell “Geronimo” when they jump, didn’t you? Currahee! was the cry of those who trained there, as everyone who lives around Fort Campbell, Kentucky/Tennessee knows. I am proud that I served for a time in the 101st Airborne Division. [The pronunciation is CURRa-hee.] Near Townsend, Tennessee, is Curry He Mountain, from the same Cherokee word. One of the Cherokee signers of the “Turkeytown Treaty” of 1817 was Currahee Dick, but he was from North Carolina.
The word Currahee is often cited as meaning “We stand alone” or similar phrases. I am sorry to report that, as great as that sounds to those who serve in the 101st Airborne, it just is not true. Not in Cherokee. Sorry. However, we need to point out that the mountain is a monadnock, which by definition, stands alone. Currahee does stand alone!
Up in the Smoky Mountains is Cataloochee Creek and other Cataloochee places: a township, a mountain, a divide, and more. Sometimes, I have looked up at a mountain ridge, narrow at its top, to see a thin line of tall conifers looking rather like a stiff and vertical fringe against the sky. So it must have looked, somewhere in the Cataloochee region, to the ancient Cherokee who called it “Gadalutsi,” which translates as “fringe sticking straight up.”
Tuskegee: There were several settlements called Dasgigiyi [sometimes transliterated Taskigiyi or shortened to Taskigi] in the Cherokee country. The name is not Cherokee, nor even Creek; it came from the name of a nearly forgotten tribe who were taken in partly by the Cherokee and partly by the Creeks to the south. They were absorbed and nearly extinct before white people took notice of them, so not very much is known about them. They may have been some remnant of people who were living in the southeast when the Creeks and Cherokee arrived. The name remains in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama. It is intriguing to note that the Spanish explorers were told in 1567 that not too far from “Tasqui” was another town, “Tasquiqui.” One wonders if there is a connection between Tuskegee Creek and Tuskee Gap in the Smokies?
Suwanee: “Suwani,” the name of a Cherokee town near the present Suwanee, Georgia. The word is not Cherokee, and the town had been taken from the Creeks. Both Creeks and Cherokee claimed a wide strip across Georgia, and, since neither side was able to enforce its claim, for a time there were towns of both tribes within the strip. The Suwanee River, famous as the “Swanee River” of song, has the same name origin.
Judaculla Rock is a large soapstone outcrop near Cullowhee, North Carolina; it is covered with incised and scratched markings of various shapes, not seemingly arranged in any order, and of wholly unknown meaning. The markings, the best known petroglyphs in the state, are somewhat similar to those found at Track Rock Gap [q.v.]. On older maps, the name was spelled Juttaculla, and nearby is a “bald” of some 100 or so acres which is called Judaculla Old Fields. The name is the result of English attempts at Tsul’kalu, a mythological and supernatural slant-eyed giant. Tsul’kalu can be translated “he has them leaning [or slanted].” According to legend, Tsul’kalu, who had seven toes on each foot, made the marks when he jumped up or down from his fields.